Chapter 6 Case Study: What Do We Mean by Intelligence?

Use this case study as a discussion prompter with your teams or students.


David began his career with the company straight out of college and worked his way up to his current role as Administrative Director. He felt he was good at his job which entailed managing a staff of 18, monitoring departmental budgets, updating senior management, and developing operating procedures and policies as well as working with HR to ensure compliance with employment policies. David had been with the organization through a couple of major operational changes and demonstrated exceptional ability to quickly adapt his areas of operation with efficiency. He was well-liked by his peers but not so much by his direct reports who complained his expectations of their performance was too demanding, and they often didn’t understand his instructions They let David know how they felt, but he believed they were just complainers and lazy by making an excuse they didn’t understand what to do. He knew his communication skills were exceptional based on his university GPA. He had high hopes for promotion.


Carrie, David’s direct supervisor, had observed his on-the-job abilities and knowing a regional director position was coming available, was considering recommending David for the position. Curious about his college performance, Carrie requested his file from HR. She learned he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in economics and a minor in human resources. Carrie was aware of the complaints by David’s direct reports but felt he excelled in other areas of his position. She thought about his presentations to senior management and the academic/formal tone he used and wondered if that was how he communicated instructions to his employees. She decided to talk with David about the complaints to see how he felt he was handling them. During their conversation, David seemed to understand the gravity of the problem but when Carrie asked his plans on how he would handle it, he laughed and said he would try to “dumb down his instructions to their level.”


Questions to Consider

  1. What is your initial assessment of Carrie’s intelligence?

  2. Should John recommend Carrie for the promotion, why or why not?

  3. Does Carrie have potential based on intelligence, why or why not?

  4. What recommendations do you have for Carrie’s development?